Annual meeting emphasizes dedication to dairy by members, Cooperative

Farm Forum

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – More than 1,400 Dairy Farmers of America members and guests convened in Kansas City for the Cooperative’s 16th Annual Meeting on March 18. In recognition of the dedication by its farmer-owners, DFA explored the diverse ways the Cooperative and its member-owners are committed to the dairy industry.

This year’s meeting theme — Dedicated to Dairy — recognizes DFA’s members and their commitment to their cows, their operations, their communities and their families. The meeting highlighted how DFA is working with customers and the industry to build a Cooperative that, from the moment milk leaves members’ farms to the moment it is served on family tables around the world, brings members value through every step in the process.

“One thing you learn very quickly in our business is that dairy farmers and their families are passionate about what they do. That they are indeed dedicated to dairy,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “As owners of our cooperative, (DFA member-owners) control our own destiny. We have choices. Together, we can move proactively to invest in our shared future, in new milk processing factories, in expanded dairy product lines, in exciting consumer brands, in growing overseas markets — all driven by our mission to deliver value to members.”

The meeting kicked off with the chairman’s report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy in Rogersville, Mo. He focused on the steps DFA has taken to advance the dairy industry around the nation and world. Mooney also discussed issues, such as the new Farm Bill, that are affecting farmers every day at home.

An overview of the Cooperative’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His report also discussed how the Cooperative has increased its commercial business focus during the past several years, in an effort to better serve and provide value to its members.

“As a national milk marketing cooperative that is owned by dairy farmers across the nation, DFA is committed to bringing value to our members,” Smith said. “That means we are committed to innovation and success by operating first-rate commercial businesses and investing in elite dairy companies. We also want to provide on-farm services that make it easier and more profitable for our members to farm.”

Special guests and additional highlights of the meeting program included:

• Lowell Catlett, regents professor and dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, discussing the world’s increased need for agriculture, now more than ever

• “Maintaining the Global Momentum for U.S. Dairy,” a presentation by Tom Suber, president, U.S. Dairy Export Council

• A summary of DFA’s global strategy by Jay Waldvogel, the Cooperative’s senior vice president of strategy and global development

• An update on National Milk Producers Federation’s work for the dairy industry by Jim Mulhern, president and chief executive officer

• An overview of the latest dairy promotion activities by Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of Dairy Management Inc.

The Cooperative’s Annual Banquet brought a host of recognitions, including the 2014 Members of Distinction. Every year, one member farm from each of DFA’s seven regional Areas is recognized for their service to their dairy, their families, communities and the industry.

In addition, outgoing Board Director Donnie Fisher, who has served the Cooperative in a leadership role since its formation, was recognized for his contribution to DFA.

Winners of the 2014 DFA Cares Foundation Scholarship was announced at the banquet. DFA Cares Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing a career in the dairy industry. This year’s record-breaking 36 recipients will receive a combined total of $42,500 toward their undergraduate and graduate level studies.

Also at the banquet, guests met employees who have been awarded the Cooperative’s elite Be More Employee Awards. The program encourages employees to demonstrate DFA’s core values and reinforce the meaning of “More Cooperative.”

The Annual Meeting concluded with the resolutions process, which brings together 250 elected delegates from across the nation to vote on a slate of issues that guide the policy position and business activities of DFA for the coming year.